The School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University Improves the Admissions Experience for Students and Faculty

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The Background

The School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University is one of the top music schools in the nation. Internationally recognized faculty, varied and technologically driven curricula and five outstanding performance facilities all contribute to its stature. The quality and comprehensiveness of this program is demonstrated by their many graduates who are successful performers, composers, music therapists, conductors and teachers regionally, nationally and internationally. The School of Music became a client of DecisionDesk in early 2013, when they were looking for a streamlined solution for their complicated application process, both from the applicants’ and school administrators’ perspectives.

The Challenges Of The Old Process

“Ten years ago, the school started with paper applications which were sent back and forth in the mail, which forced staff to create and label thousands of manila folders,” says Amy Chou, Program Manager of Admissions and Academic Affairs. “This process was extremely disorganized and tedious for faculty reviewers, especially because the folders and papers inside them would often get lost.”

The school then switched to an online provider, in the hope that this would alleviate the disorganization. This provider then allowed staff to stop collecting CDs and DVDs received in the mail, but still forced them to take the time and convert all of the files and manually upload them to the server for faculty members to review.

“Since using DecisionDesk, we’ve seen a huge improvement, especially in terms of streamlining all of the information we receive. Administrators and faculty reviewers are able to log in, view applications, audition videos, recommendation letters, and leave and submit their reviews all in one place.

– Julie Stephens, Office Specialist, Student Affairs
Arizona State University, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts”

Faculty reviewers were also dissatisfied with this process, mostly because they had to go to a different website to submit audition reports. Before DecisionDesk, the main problem was that all application information, recommendation letters, audition media, and other supplemental materials were not centralized to one location or medium, which was a huge inconvenience for the faculty.

The Decisiondesk Solution And Results

“Since using DecisionDesk, we’ve seen a huge improvement, especially in terms of streamlining all of the information we receive,” says Julie Stephens, Office Specialist, Student Affairs. “Administrators and faculty reviewers are able to log in, view applications, audition videos, recommendation letters, and leave and submit their reviews all in one place. This has allowed me to spend my time recruiting and keeping in touch with and up-to-date with applicants, time that I previously would have spent scanning application information, converting video files, and compiling everything into one location on my own.”

Communication with applicants has also improved. Now that staff time is mainly spent recruiting and following up with applicants, they are able to process more applications than before. Also, the application is customizable. Because of how flexible the application customizations are, school staff are able to include specific instructions for applying and uploading. Before, the application was created in-house and had many limitations. Now, the school is constantly receiving compliments on how user-friendly, clear, and easy the application is.

According to Stephens, “DecisionDesk’s Support Team has been invaluable in making the process easier. Because of them, email traffic in terms of application and support questions has significantly reduced. They are nice, and very receptive to ideas on what would improve not just our process, but other programs’ processes. They seem to always be asking, ‘What can we do to make this easier for our clients?’ which is a game-changing attitude.”

“Before [using DecisionDesk], recommendation letters used to come in the mail, even though the school switched over to an online system, and in terms of the Undergraduate program, staff would have to scan them in and convert them all to .pdf formats,” Chou says. “DecisionDesk’s recommendation letter feature alone was worth the investment in the platform.”

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